Audit Office readying itself for oil & gas

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Auditor-General, Deodat Sharma

– with help of the Canadians

THE Audit Office of Guyana has started to prepare for the budding oil and gas industry, especially since the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) announced that they will be auditing the operations of US oil giant, ExxonMobil.

With government agencies and constitutional bodies having already started building capacity in the area of oil and gas, Auditor-General (AG) Deodat Sharma said his office will not be left behind.

“A consultant will be coming through the CESO programme which is organised by the Canadian High Commission,” Sharma said during an interview with the Guyana Chronicle on Monday.

CESO has completed more than 1,000 assignments in Guyana since 1976, and has worked in close collaboration with the Canadian High Commission in Guyana to develop procedures to operationalise the newly-formed Guyana Oil and Gas Association (GOGA).
According to CESO’s website, the association promotes the responsible and sustainable development of the oil and gas sector in the country through advocacy, collaboration and education.

The auditor-general said the consultant will sensitise staff about the process of auditing the new industry, and talk to them about some of the preparatory work that is needed to ensure that they are ready for oil and gas.
“This is brand new, so we will be doing training in environmental auditing as well,” Sharma explained, adding that his office already has a plan of how they will approach the new industry.

As mentioned earlier, their first approach is to be trained and equipped with the knowledge about the new industry before they move on to developing new auditing systems.
When the new industry gets on stream, the audit office will have to be prepared support Government agencies, especially the GRA.

Just recently, GRA Commissioner-General, Godfrey Statia announced that the authority is preparing staff for its soon-to-be-created Oil and Gas Unit.
The creation of the unit is also coming just about a month after renowned economist, Professor Sir Paul Collier urged the government to build capacity to scrutinise the taxes Exxon pays.

Like the auditor-general, Statia said training will be provided for staff of the GRA, and that by 2021, he expects the Oil and Gas Unit to be staffed with approximately 100 persons.
“We have already notified Exxon of our intention to commence certain audits, and that is exactly where we are,” Statia said, adding that staff will have to be prepared to conduct audits that would not only focus on revenues but also on assets, expenses, and likely per-wells.

He said, too, that his entity has to take steps to maximise its taxes, as audits would be done not only on ExxonMobil but also on their contractors.